“Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called everybody, and they meet at the bar.” ~Drew Carey
I’ve touched on this before, my thoughts on support groups. And yes, this too, is tied in with the last post and a future one. I’ll get there …
Pearlsky and I used to go to an early intervention program before she was in school. It was twice a week, and to this day, I am not sure what the use really was. She would play, for what it’s worth, and I would hang out with the “other” mothers. Or sit and do work. Or try to ignore everyone. At least once a week, the parents had the option of joining in a support group during this time. I did. Once.
I never really understood support groups like this. I get my support other ways.
We sat in a circle, me, eight or nine moms, and a social worker. Mind you, this was before I realized that social workers are generally one rung below school nurses.
We are sitting there, and I am listening to others complain. They complain about life, about kids, about husbands, you name it. Knowing my place, I know I should not tell them how to fix their lives, although at times it was obvious. That was not my role. What my role was, I have no idea. A big topic was lack of sex. Really. And I am sitting there, dying to scream “Get a mirror lady” but I did not. I said nothing, and the truth is, I had nothing to bitch about.
I have a fucked up kid, don’t know why. I own a company, I have sex. And, no, I don’t want to share.
I never attended again. It was depressing to sit around and hear other’s problems. I don’t get it. Do these people want others to tell them how to fix their lives? Or do they just want to complain? Is there a reason there was coffee and not beer? Brownies and not Prozac?
I understand support systems like AA or Al-anon or Alateen. They have done great stuff for many people. They are specific support groups, for a specific issue, and that works.
I must say that this support group was led by the same puke social worker who once asked me …
How do you feel having a severely disabled daughter?
which is an outrageous question for a public forum (not in the support group, just out of the blue one day).
So there you are. You see others with problems, like yours, different, bigger, smaller. Do you just tell them how to fix it? Do you just listen? Schadenfreude? Isn’t it depressing to just sit and listen to a dozen miserable people who hate the world?
Is the act of reading other people’s blogs kind of the same thing though? You read about my shit, I read about your shit. Tit for tat. Tea for two. You for me. Me for you. I don’t see what the difference is other than the fact that you and I are cool and those people obviously weren’t. 😛
Unless I am missing a grand point you are about to make and I am fumbling about much the same way I would with a bra clasp in the back seat of my Mom’s Buick Skylark with [NAME WITHHELD] in 9th Grade.
Oh and just to clarify…why don’t they ALL just unbuckle in the front? My pants don’t unbutton in the back, you see what I’m sayin’? Makes NO sense.
Ken, that was YOU? My sister still complains about that date …
Gotta love ya, you brought boobies to my blog!
Ken…you had a Skylark too? Awesome…they were known for their transmissions problems, remember? Bras that clasp in front?? Well, just so you know…less adjustability. Have to fit perfectly right off the bat. In a perfect world, there would be perfectly fitting bras…POST? WHAT POST?
Oh..single dad…you can be one harsh dude sometimes. First off, you are the only male in an all female group. Of course you don’t fit in. Second…had a social worker asked me that question, I would have thought it, well, typical. My answer…”scared as hell.” Third, yes, some support groups can degrade into bitch sessions that are not very productive. However, women deal with stuff differently than men. Men always want to fix shit, women like to vent (aka bitch) and then get on with life. Sometimes all there is to do is complain and then move on. Everything does not have an answer.
And Ken, I have nice pants that undo at the back…most men love those…
I’m a caregiver for my dad with Alzheimer’s, and I never liked in person support groups, because I felt like I was the only one who had ever done any reading about Alzheimer’s. I like online forums, though, because they are full of practical advice. How do you change a diaper when he’s trying to run away? Or, does anyone have tricks for helping with sleep. Stuff like that.
Whenever I think of support groups, I think of that group therapy that was in the Bob Newhart Show and that makes me laugh because there’s something so goofy about sitting around with people and kvetching about such dark and personal things. I was in a support group early on and actually found the three women that would form PACE (a non-profit organization for seizure research and outreach) with me as well as be my lifelong friends (at least so far). However, we had a real psychologist who sat and moderated and the group was really more of a resource sharing thing after a while. I generally detest support groups for the same reasons as you, Single Dad, but I agree with Ken that blogs are a bit like support groups and I do adore them.
Are you in a bad mood?
I think Claire has a good point. Women feel closer to other women by SHARING things, most often difficult or uncomfortable or unhappy things; by talking about problems they have. Men feel closer to other men by DOING things together – building something, solving a problem, physical work side by side with not much talking. I think it’s more of a gender difference than anything else.
Not to say that all support groups are actually supportive. But they serve different needs for different times in your life. Here on a military base, I see it in action all the time. A group that is made up of young spouses does not work for senior spouses even though the group subject is open to all, and it has more to do with life experience than it does with helpfulness of the group. Were you to ask the young spouses if it was helpful, it would be a resounding YES. If you were to ask the older spouses, they would say it was a waste of their time. Yet another support group, same subject, primarily made up of older spouses would not be as helpful to the younger spouses because the concerns/issues/information needed would be different.
And, being a woman, I don’t really see the outrageousness in the social worker’s question. I see her asking, “How are you handling it? How are you holding up? Can I listen to you for a while as you vent or talk about your feelings?” It’s sort of a non-intrusive way to tell someone you care and are willing to be there for them if they need it. Again, I think it’s more of a gender difference in communication. I can see where it would be really annoying for a man to be posed with that question. My husband would have the same reaction as you to the things above. He’s definitely a green.
I agree with all the comments above.
Except for the part about the bra.
Strange enough I’m more of a male type of person when it comes to sharing vs wanting to fix. I want to fix stuff too, which has been a tough point for my best friend when she just wants to share and I then start bringing on solutions….
When my brother and I were in state custody we had to go to a shrink, then we had to have a “family” session. Now that was jacked up enough to me, I was uncomfortable, wanted to be anywhere else, and wouldn’t even say a word about how I felt in front of my own family. And I personally would never want to talk about anything that really matters in front of people I do not know that well, it may be that crazy anger that comes over me any time someone says “I know how you feel”. But I am not sure how support groups could help anymore than just sitting with a friend, watching a movie, with absolutly no talking. Just focusing on something else sometimes seems like a much better solution than complaining about things you can’t change.
Like anything that involves delving into deeply personal issues, what works for some does not work for others. Family counselling is extremely difficult to pull off as a group exercise and should only be moderated by someone with a tremendous amount of training and experience. Most “real” support groups are, indeed, led by properly trained professionals. The issue of whether or not one prefers talking to a stranger or not depends, too, on the circumstances. I have done both. Talking to someone who knows my family and our current circumstances allowed me to get to the point of our meeting without having to spend and hour just giving background information. Talking to a “stranger”…professional…was also great because there were no pre-conceived notions as to who I was (or am) or how I am supposed to act. I found it very freeing, actually. If someone is struggling with issues and wants to change their direction in life, move ahead, move beyond, not talking at all seems counterproductive and would be classed as an avoidance tactic. Sometimes, things don’t go away by themselves…they need to be addressed and worked on. Again…all depends on how much one can take. Friendships, too, vary, some being helpful in bringing about change, some being helpful in just maitaining status quo, emotionally. Depends on what one is looking for, once again.
When people try to push me towards a support group, I always tell them that I already got one, in my blogging friends. I think a real-world support group can be great if it consists of ‘your kind of people’ but it takes lots of luck or serendipity or whatnot. If you don’t feel connected to your group members and you are on totally different wavelengths than a support group sounds torturous. I personally have a hard time with the sitting-around-with-name-tags kind of settings and group-complainings but I wouldn’t mind getting together with some like-minded mothers who share my reality and feel similarly about the Holland piece.
Once a woman is out of a training bra those teeny little front clasps just won’t cut it. Fine for the kind that are designed to go straight from the drawer to the floor but useless to wear.
A lot of women have to talk about their problems in order to see that they already know the solution, others just like to bitch. The best thing you can ever say to a woman who is talking about her problems is “Wow, that’s terrible, what are you going to do about it?” it’s almost guaranteed to get you laid. You’d probably have liked it more if it wasn’t all women and was led by someone who wasn’t an absolute tool.
I’ve attended Al-anon and Alateen (once each) and they were miserable. Picture a room packed with people who fiercely encourage each other to blame all of their troubles on the substance abuser in their life. It was ridiculous and horrible. I don’t feel like there is anything wrong with a bit of wallowing, as long as it gets it out of your system so you can move on, but going to weekly meetings to bathe in collective misery seems unhealthy. I’d be for a support group that was about working towards solutions to practical and emotional problems. The internet does it for me perfectly well.
Rachel: Wow, that’s terrible (about AA), what are you going to do about it?
You know, I’m really sorry SD, I know this is supposed to be about Special Needs and all, but I learned a HUGE lesson here. I had NO idea that the whole clasp thing was related to tittie engineering. Seriously. None at all. I did not know that the positioning of the clasp had anything at all to do with the actual support of the physical orbs. From a pure scientific standpoint, it’s fascinating. And it explains why so many girls in my life never had the fronties.
Thank you, from the bottom of the heart, for allowing one of my life’s greatest mysteries to be solved.
You’re a good friend.
@SD Nice, well done. Now go try it on someone who lives within a thousand miles and isn’t happily married.
@Ken The science of boobs is extensive, but largely secret. Not only is clasp position and size important, but it varies depending on whether the boobs are natural or implants.
I guess Victoria wasn’t bullshitting…
All I can say is: Wow! This was informative and extremely entertaining!
Just catching up. All I can say is: Wow! This was informative and extremely entertaining!